An in vitro and in vivo Study of Toothbrush Bristle Splaying

H. R. Rawls, R. Casella, N. J. Mkwayi-Tulloch, H. R. Rawls

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Scopus citations


The extent to which a toothbrush is worn out, as evidenced by bristle splaying, is an important determinant of cleaning efficacy. In order for this aspect of oral hygiene to be studied, an accelerated means of producing a life-like pattern of bristle splaying was investigated and compared with splaying induced by a human test-panel. Porcelain denture teeth were brushed under a static applied load in a slurry of dentifrice, by means of a revolving “figure 8” motion, for up to 12,000 revolutions. This was found to induce an increase in the degree of splaying (as measured by “wear index”) that was well-fitted (R2 = 0.96) by a second-order expression of the form: where WI = wear index, WIi = initial wear index, Ri = initial rate of increase in WI, tj = brushing time measured in either machine revolutions (tr) or weeks of human use (tw), and C = a separate constant for each brushing mode (machine or human panel). The rate of splaying was found to be strongly influenced by the quality of the bristle filament, but not by small differences in toothbrush design. The splaying pattern induced by the machine could not be distinguished visually from that in a set of brushes used at home by human volunteers. A strong correlation was found between the splaying produced by machine-brushing and by a panel who brushed free-style at home for 13 weeks. The data fit a linear correlation function: These results demonstrate that an accelerated brushing method can mimic the human process involved in toothbrush splaying, that a quantitative relationship exists between the two, and that it is sensitive to brush-construction factors known to affect splaying. This method is therefore suitable for use in investigations concerning toothbrush durability and the effects of toothbrush design and use on various aspects of oral health.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)947-952
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of dental research
Issue number5
StatePublished - May 1993

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Dentistry(all)


Dive into the research topics of 'An in vitro and in vivo Study of Toothbrush Bristle Splaying'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this